States track driving records and tickets

The Driver License Agreement aims to compile one record for interstate convictions.

Aidan M. Anderson

Interstate traffic offenders can run from the law, but they can’t hide, thanks in part to two agreements that allow states to track driving convictions beyond their borders.

The Driver License Compact and the Non-resident Violator Compact, overseen by a board of regional representatives, require signatory states to report driving violations to the driver’s home state.

Wisconsin is Minnesota’s only neighbor that has not signed on to the compacts, which have been around for several decades, but that doesn’t mean Wisconsinite expatriates are off the hook when it comes to obeying other states’ regulations.

Wisconsin has not signed on to the agreement because its state law already requires interstate reporting, and agreeing with the compact would require retooling of the state’s traffic laws, said Kent Buehler, a Wisconsin transportation bureau supervisor.

“We’re required to report convictions that happen in Wisconsin to the home state, and we’re required to put convictions on the driving record that are reported from other states as long as they’re in conformity with Wisconsin statutes,” he said.

Wisconsin drivers who receive tickets from outside the state will not lose points from their license, but the conviction still goes on their record, Buehler said.

Although Wisconsin is not a signatory to the Driver License or Non-resident Violators compacts, the state has been in compliance with most of the compacts’ requirements, said Kevin O’Brien, chairman of the Driver License Compact/Non-resident Violators Compact board of directors.

The board, along with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, has been working for almost five years to combine the two compacts into a new version called the Driver License Agreement.

The agreement is similar to the compacts in that traffic violation convictions would be reported to the driver’s home state, but will aim at compiling a single driving record, O’Brien said. Some out-of-state violation recording requires a separate driving record be created.

One of the keys gaining support from all states is standardizing traffic laws so violations reported among states carry similar weight on one’s driving record, O’Brien said.

“It sets up complementary codes of violations so that we can equate violations from one jurisdiction to another,” he said. “It basically requires one license, one record, so that instead of jurisdictions setting up separate records in the state they’re visiting, everybody agrees to report all violations back to the home jurisdiction.”

Department of Motor Vehicle administrators in Wisconsin will include the agreement in their next biennial budget request, said Anna Biermeier, Wisconsin’s Department of Motor Vehicles’ chief of the citation and withdrawal.

“At this point, Wisconsin is planning on joining the (Driver License Agreement) and we’ve been doing some work on that,” Buehler said. “We would have to make some significant statute changes, which we’ve already identified.”

Joining the agreement is not on Minnesota’s agenda this year, but the planning process for compliance is under way, said Cynthia Waters, driver compliance program manager for the state.